Claiborne, Cumberland Gap schools achieve FAFSA champion status

Published 2:49 pm Thursday, April 20, 2023

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Claiborne and Cumberland Gap High Schools stand shoulder-to-shoulder with 14 other schools in achieving the status of FAFSA Champion during the 2022-23 academic year. The Ayers Foundation Trust recently announced its record-breaking number of high schools to attain this level in the flagship Ayers Scholars Program.

The designation is awarded to schools that exceed the benchmark of 90 percent completion rates or have increased their numbers by five percent or more over the previous year. These awards are designated by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation.

A total of 16 high schools earned the title this year. Besides Claiborne and Cumberland Gap High are Big Sandy, Camden Central, Frank Hughes, Hardin County, Haywood County, Lawrence County, Lewis County, Lexington, Perry County, Riverside, Scotts Hill, Unicoi County, Union County and Wayne County High Schools.

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Ayers counselors brainstormed creative ideas to connect with families in order to help students with the completion of their FAFSA forms. Dr. Angela Marshall, Director of Expansion & Development for the Ayers Scholars Program and former lead counselor at Scotts Hill High School, spoke of just one of the ideas.

“Students and parents attend our school’s basketball games. We seized those opportunities and offered appointments before and during the games to help students complete the FAFSA.”

Students who complete the FAFSA are far more likely to enroll in higher education or technical training after high school, according to research on the topic.

Filing a FAFSA is the first step students must take to apply for most state and federal financial aid for college.

“The FAFSA Champion designations drive home the impact our scholars program has on the students we serve,” said Dr. Burton Williams, CEO of the Ayers Foundation Trust. “Whether it’s establishing a study routine, preparing for a test or completing the FAFSA, our counselors are focus-driven on helping students succeed. We are proud of the accomplishments of our Ayers Scholars.”

The Ayers Scholars Program was founded in 1999 in a single high school. The program now serves students in 19 high schools and two community colleges across 12 rural Tennessee counties. The program provides schools with full-time, trained advisors that allow counselors the ability to give students the guidance and support needed from grade 8 through college and other post-secondary paths.

For more information about the many programs of the Ayers Foundation Trust, log onto: